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A Personal Note on Our Hollywood Rescuer Story

A commenter adds to our story about Hollywood and World War II

Adam Chandler
February 22, 2013

Earlier this week, we ran a story by Allison Hoffman about Hollywood movie mogul Carl Laemmle, whose efforts to save European Jews in the 1930s went largely unheralded. Hoffman wrote:

Laemmle also had more reason than most powerful Hollywood Jews to take Hitler’s actions personally: He still had close relatives living in Germany. And when the Nazis came to Laupheim, they put Hitler’s name on streets and buildings that had been dedicated in his honor. “Mr. Hitler comes to power, and all of a sudden Laemmlestrasse was no longer Laemmlestrasse,” a former employee, Joseph Roos, told interviewers from the Shoah Foundation in 1995.

One sad aspect of the story is the relative inaction of other powerful Jewish figures in the film industry to help their brethren escape. Following Hoffman’s story, one of our fantastic commenters added to this personal flourish to the history. He wrote:

My late father in 1938 wrote from Vienna to one of the motion picture studios and he asked for help for himself and his three brothers to come to America. My father was professionally trained in interior decoration and he offered his services as a set designer or in some related field. He never received an answer, as far as I know, However his letter was later found by a friend of mine who bought a collection of such letters that were offered at auction. My friend gave me a copy of the original letter in German together with an English translation. My father and his brothers were able to eventually leave Austria and my father took refuge in Shanghai during the war before coming to Canada.

Thanks for the wonderful note.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.